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What happens in Vegas, stays insipid

Las Vegas- Still in Vegas, but now with a purpose. That seems to be no secret, either. I’m on a bus heading along the Strip while sitting next to a woman who’s at least 70 years old. I know the bus lines in the city, so many people assume I’m a local. Plenty of conversation starts that way. At some point in our talk, I tell the old lady that I’m actually visiting for an event at the Mandalay Bay resort.

“Oh,” she says. “You’re here for the convention!”

“I’m here for a convention,” I reply, wondering what she’s getting at.

She puts her hand on my arm and gives me a big smile: “It sounds like a lot of fun!”

So everybody-even the little old ladies in town for group tours-knows about Vegas in January.

The convention that I’m attending is specifically known as the Internext Expo. Most people describe it as the “adult internet show.” And the event is more commonly known as the “dull prelude to what will eventually become a massive porn convention by the end of the week.” The prime adult action will take place against the backdrop of the Consumer Electronics Show. For whatever reason, the porn biz has decided that CES really celebrates their kind of consumers. To be fair, it’s not like anyone attending CES doesn’t find an excuse to step into the massive porn hall.

Internext, however, caters to the lesser subculture of porn techies and the last of the dot-com bottomfeeders. This is further stressed while I’m standing in line to get set up at the Mandalay Bay convention hall. Some kind of massive incompetence has led to absurdly long lines at all the registration booths. I’m in the Exhibitors line, which you’d think would have some kind of priority. Instead, I’m stuck with the kind of people who really sum up the porn biz. You’ll never meet more self-declared millionaires who can’t afford to get decent dental work.

I skipped last year’s convention, but it looks like you can continue to count on my rule of dwindling retards. From what I can see, this year’s show continues the steady decline in size ever since I started attending Internext about five years ago. The most flagrant crooks are constantly being shaken out. Any business that’s become trustworthy no longer has to bother investing in flashy exhibits.

“Don’t worry,” insists a gentleman in front of me, “there are always a lot of con artists in this place.” He’s a typical attendee. Like many here, he’s looking to check out the crowd in hopes of finding people who owe him money. “I figure that I’m now owed a million in filed lawsuits,” claims another entrepreneur. That’s pretty much how you brag about your empire in the internet porn biz.

The wait isn’t really too bad. It gives everyone in line a chance to catch up on who’s in jail and which former porn stars are now advertising on different websites as escorts. I forget to avoid any personal topics, though. That stuff gets depressing. Some guy mentions being a new dad, and I stupidly ask for details about his son. “He better be doing okay,” he replies. “I’m single. I can’t stay married to that woman.”

The exhibitors have finally grown aware that half their audience is being kept outside. They’re sending out girls to work the lines waiting for entry. The dames already look tired from handing out flyers while wearing really inappropriate footwear, and it’s barely noon.

I’m fairly tired, too. Then I notice that the press booth doesn’t have a line. There’s a lucky break. I walk over, present a business card, and get ushered right in-not that there’s anything to report. There’ll be a much longer press line in about two days. Right now, the porn stars are just beginning to trickle in. I spotted the first swallow in my hotel lobby this morning.

My plan is to be long gone before there’s any real porn event worth covering. Judy McGuire will be flying in to maintain New York Press presence. Maybe she’ll know how to have a good time. Personally, it’s pure coincidence that I even end up at that afternoon’s photo- shoot party.

As any little old lady could explain, a photo- shoot party is a promo event where people are hired to simulate sex so everyone can get plenty of cheap shots for their various websites. There was one held the previous night in a Mandalay Bay penthouse, and it sounded kind of glamorous. However, I’m not so jaded that I don’t prefer my porn shoots to feature females. That’s how I end up later in the day at a sprawling strip mall about three miles off the Vegas Strip.

I mainly took the bus here so I could check out a used record store that turns out to be overrated. It’s then a short walk to one of the few Vegas locales that truly feels like Sin City-in all its natural banality. Someone will later explain that this complex is called the Community Center, and that it’s pretty much dedicated to serving the local gay support groups.

You’d think they would decorate it better. This place is dire. “Over there,” points out a dismissive transvestite in the parking lot, “are the straight bars.” In this case, the term refers to a tidy little area where three swingers’ clubs have set up shop. The anchor store is the Green Door, which is a major complex. The shoot is at the seedier Rendezvous club that’s over a few doors. It’s a dark and humble collection of cubicles-and a spa-that feels more like where the locals go to swing.

The guy at the third place wants to charge me $40 to see what wonders await inside his own dank paradise. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

I’ll remain sort of baffled at what I’m supposed to be enjoying at the Rendezvous. I think the photo shoot has some kind of gloryhole theme. I’ll remain unsure, since validating this theory would require my getting way too close to the action. You’ll have to dismiss that as more bad journalism on my end.

The only really interesting person I’ll meet during all this is transsexual porn star Genna Talia, and that’s because she’s the bartender whom I ask to call me a cab at the gay bar across the street. She’s a good gal. You have to like anyone who ends their recitation of video credits with, “…and an episode of Cops.”

As it turns out, I didn’t need that cab. There’s a party back at Mandalay Bay, but I’m not enthused about going to another event featuring a signing by Jenna Jameson. She’ll only remind me of that time when I got to her Avalon party way too early, and discovered that the club washes down their rooms with the same disinfectant used in the Times Square porn booths.

Instead, I’ll later take advantage of an invitation to return and check out the Green Door and Rendezvous during their nighttime peak. This ends up as a slight variation on the notion of taking a ringside seat at any Vegas buffet. I don’t know it at the time, of course, but I’m less than 48 hours from sitting in a New Jersey jail cell while facing charges for assault. I’ll still be feeling really lucky not to be in Las Vegas.



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